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Abstract

Over the past two years, dockless electric scooters have become a staple of modern urban transit. Dockless electric scooters and other micro-transit devices present a unique challenge in the realm of criminal liability. Considering that electric scooters are lightweight, low-speed devices with an ambiguous regulatory status, how will driving under the influence statutes be enforced when scooter riders inevitably “scoot” while intoxicated? This question requires rapid and innovative answers; scooter riders in a number of jurisdictions have already been charged under existing driving under the influence statutes with varying levels of success. This comment seeks to provide those answers by examining the current and historical state of driving under the influence laws as applied to non-automobile transportation devices. Concluding that the current body of law in this area is ambiguous, inequitable, and antiquated, the comment then proposes a two-part answer to the question of intoxicated scooter riders’ criminal liability. The legislature should first create a statutory definition that affords legal status to micro-transit devices, including electric scooters. Then, the legislature should create a new statutory crime addressing this issue. The statute should provide proportional criminal penalties that serve as more effective deterrents. This approach is preferable to a judicial remedy, as the slow pace of the judiciary cannot match the rapid growth of the micro-transit industry. Finally, the Appendix to this comment provides model statutes that legislators can use as a guide in drafting new and effective rules concerning criminal liability in the micro-transit context.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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